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How To Use WordPress Autosave And Post Revisions

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, after spending much time and effort composing a new article, something crashes and you suddenly find that you have lost all of your hard work because you didn’t save it?

If this ever happens and you use WordPress, don’t feel dismayed! WordPress comes with a powerful autosave and post revision function that:

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will show you how to use the autosave and revision system of WordPress to automatically save, recover, and restore your pages and posts.

Using WordPress Post Revisions And Autosave: Tutorial

Generally, after saving a post or page, you will see a confirmation message like the one below …

(Edit Post – Post updated message)

Things can and do go wrong, however. For example:

If this happens and you try to save your work, you may see a ‘WordPress Failure Notice’ message like this instead …

(Failure Notice – WordPress)

If you the message Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again shows up on your screen and you click on ‘Please try again’, you will normally return to a post or page editing screen displaying an older version of your post, minus any changes that you recently made.

This is where the built-in autosave feature can really save you time.

The Autosave Function Of WordPress

Autosaves are automatically enabled for all WordPress pages and posts and stored as a special type of revision in the WordPress database so they will not overwrite the post you’re working on.

By default, posts are saved to your WordPress database every sixty seconds. This interval can be changed by adding code to your wp-config.php file.

We recommend making a backup of your site files and database before updating website files.

If you are concerned about working with files inside your web server, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be glad to help you.

If you were working on your edits for a while and something happens (e.g. your wireless connection goes down temporarily), a There is an autosave of this post …’ warning like the one shown below may come up when you get back to editing your post or page …

(Autosave notification)

Click on the ‘View the autosave’ link …

(Autosave notification)

The Revisions screen appears, allowing you to recover a previously saved version of your post …

(Revisions panel)

Click the ‘Restore This Autosave’ button …

(WordPress offers one-click recovery of autosaved content)

Autosave restores the content of your latest post …

(Autosave restores your latest post)

WordPress Post Autosave – Additional Information

Content Recovery – Session Expired

Sometimes, your login session will simply expire …

(WordPress – session expired)

If your login session expires, WordPress remembers where you were. Log in again and pick up where you left off …

(Session expired notice)

WordPress also warns you if the backup of the post you are working on is not the same as the version showing in the content editor and gives you the opportunity to restore your autosaved backup.

(Edit Post – Restore backup of post from browser)

Click Restore the backup

(’The backup of this post in your browser is different from the version below. Restore the backup.’ notice)

Your content will be recovered and restored successfully from your browser backup …

(Your post has been restored!)

Content Recovery – Loss Of Internet Connection

WordPress can also help you recover content if you lose your internet connection …

(Recover content if you lose your internet connection)

Another improvement made after WP 4.6 is content recovery from loss of connection. If you lose your internet connection while writing, your drafts are saved locally to your browser. When you return to edit, WordPress notifies you if there is a more recent draft, allowing you to restore the most recent version of your content …

(Content recovery after loss of internet connection. Source: WordPress 4.6 updates)

WordPress Post Revisions Feature – What Is It?

Post Revisions are a feature that was introduced to WordPress in version 2.6. Whenever a page or post is saved in WordPress, it automatically creates a revision and stores it in the WordPress database.

Significant enhancements were made to the WordPress revision control function interface after WordPress 3.6.

The new revision system included a new option to the Post/Page Publish box called Revisions, which lets you see at a glance how many revisions you have made. Click on the ‘Browse’ link to quickly bring up the ‘Compare Revisions’ panel …

(Publish Box – Revisions)

The Compare Revisions interface appears on your screen …

(Revisions section)

Note: post revision control is available on both Pages and Posts.

How To Compare Revisions

A Revision Slider allows you to move through your saved revisions. The more revisions you have saved, the longer the slider will be …

(The more revisions, the longer the slider)

When you edit content and update posts or pages, your revisions show up in the slider marked in black, with the save interval, time, and date of the revision …


Revisions saved automatically by WordPress show up in the slider highlighted in red, along with the save interval, time, and date of the post revision …

(Autosave revision slider)

Comparing Revisions – Navigation Options

You can navigate between different revisions by moving the slider right (newer) or left (older) …

(Move the revision slider to the left or right)

There are also buttons to help you navigate between revisions.

Click ‘Previous’ to compare past post revisions …

(Click ‘Previous’ to view previous revisions)

Click ‘Next’ to browse newer versions …

(Compare Revisions – ‘Next’ button)

You can also select and compare two different revisions by selecting ‘Compare any two revisions’ …

(Compare any two revisions)

You can adjust the buttons independently to compare any two versions …

(Compare two different post revisions)

When you find the revision you want restored, click the ‘Restore This Revision’ button …

(’Restore This Revision’)

To cancel the operation and go back to the post or page you’re currently working on, click on the post/page title link …

(Click on the post title to return to the editor)

You can also go back to the post editor by clicking the ‘Return to editor’ link …

(Click to return to post editor)

WordPress Revisions Function – Plugins

As mentioned earlier, there are some changes you can make to the WordPress revisions feature such as changing the autosave interval or disabling the feature altogether, but these typically involve making modifications to code in WordPress files. If you feel worried about working with code, then contact your web host or get professional assistance.

Let’s focus, then, on some additional aspects of WordPress revisions control that don’t require editing code.

Post Editor Screen – Viewing The WordPress Revisions Box

As soon as you save a page/post, WordPress begins to store new revisions in its database. These appear in a Revisions list below your post or page …

(Post Editor section – View the WordPress revisions box)

If you can’t see the Revisions list in the Post editor screen, click on the Screen Options  tab near the top right-hand corner of your screen …

(Post Editor – Screen Options tab)

Tick the check box next to ‘Revisions’ in the Boxes section …

(Post Editor: Screen Options tab – Revisions)

You should now see the Revisions list below your content. Click any of the links to bring up the Revisions panel …

(Revisions Box)

Revision Management WordPress Plugins

Autosave and post revisions are no doubt features that help create a more productive workflow. If you write or edit extensively, however, the number of revisions can start building up. This can significantly increase the size of your WordPress database, so it’s important to manage your revisions.

(Post revisions can really add up after a while)

For example, if there are 300 posts on your site with an average of 10 revisions each your database could be storing up to 6,000 copies of old data. If your post is approximately 100KB data, then with 6,000 post revisions, the total space wasted is about 600MB.

The good news is that there are various free plugins for WordPress to help you control and manage your revisions and reduce the size of your WordPress database.

To learn more about WordPress plugins that will help you manage your post revisions, go here:

Congratulations, now you know how to use the WordPress Revisions feature to restore earlier post and page revisions.


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)